Trainer Blake MacIntosh was looking for a bit of redemption after Courtly Choice’s poor showing in Flamboro Downs’ Confederation Cup. The sun was shining down on MacIntosh and ‘Courtly’ on Sunday (May 26), as the 2018 Little Brown Jug winner was back on his game.
Courtly Choice’s sharp win came in the Commodore Barry, which is one of three $100,000 invitational races that comprised Harrah’s Philadelphia’s ‘Super Stakes Sunday.’ The other invitationals were the Betsy Ross Pace and the Maxie Lee Trot.
The Commodore Barry went postward for Race 12, and with his regular pilot David Miller in the sulky, Courtly Choice took an overland trip to nail the wire in 1:49.1, and he looked good doing it.
Miller and the four-year-old son of Art Major started from Post 4 and found themselves in a stalking position in the early going. A trio of horses took part in a serious scuffle right from the word ‘go,’ as The Wall, Pacing Major N and Tiger Thompson N mixed it down to the quarter pole, which was clicked off in a blistering :25.2. Tiger Thompson N cleared to the lead after the quarter and was pressured to the half-mile marker in a hot :53.1.
Miller played it cool with Courtly Choice while the front-end battles continued. ‘Purple Jesus’ had worked out a third-over trip for his charge. Third-over turned into second-over on the final turn, after the three-quarters had flashed to life in 1:20.2. Miller knew he was in perfect striking position as the field rounded for home. Miller then tipped Courtly Choice three wide and the bay responded. Courtly Choice thrived with his clear path and was an in-hand winner at the wire.
Courtly Choice, who paid $5.80 to win, topped an exactor with Rodeo Rock, who was driven by Andrew McCarthy and had raced second-over in the mile. The Wall, who was in rein to Jim Pantaleano, emerged from the early battle to finish third.
After the race, MacIntosh discussed Courtly Choice's poor performance in the Confederation Cup. In the winner's circle interview, MacIntosh explained that Courtly Choice is not a fan off the off-going, and that the sunny weather that bathed Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday was much to the horse's liking. MacIntosh went on to say that Courtly Choice had tied up in the Confederation Cup and he is being pointed to race in a leg of the Graduate Series this coming weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Courtly Choice is owned by the Hutt Racing Stable (of Malvern, PA), Mac And Heim Stables (Cambridge, ON), Daniel Plouffe (Bromont, QC) and Touchstone Farms Inc. (Guelph, ON).
The Betsy Ross for pacing mares kicked off the invitationals in Race 10, and it was the Jim King Jr.-trained and Tim Tetrick-driven Shartin N that was tough as nails, as she gutted out a taxing first-over trip to hit the wire first in 1:49.2.Shartin N left from Post 7 and tucked in behind Caviart Ally (who was driven by Andrew McCarthy), who blitzed the quarter pole in :25.2. Tetrick had thoughts of making a move for the front early, but opted to continue to sit the pocket. The move allowed Caviart Ally to rate a second panel of :30, as she tripped the half-mile pole in :55.2. Tetrick had seen enough at that point, and tipped Shartin N out for an advance in the vicinity of the half-mile pole. The two mares battled through a big third quarter, as Caviart Ally tripped the third timer in 1:21.3 with Shartin N directly to her right. Caviart Ally didn’t want to give up the lead in the lane, as she dug in and gave it all she had, but Shartin N proved too tough, as Tetrick got her up for a narrow victory. Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan), who had raced second over, tipped three wide in the lane, but couldn’t haul down either of the leading mares and had to settle for third.
Shartin N, who returned $4.40 to win, has now won six of her seven starts this year. The six-year-old daughter of Tintin In America is owned by Richard Poillucci (of North Easton, MA), Joann Looney King (Harrington, DE) and Tim Tetrick LLC (Woolwich Twp, NJ).
The Maxie Lee for trotters was up next in Race 11, and it was the Anette Lorentzon-trained and Tim Tetrick-driven Guardian Angel As who was best of all. The five-year-old son of Archangel wrestled the lead away early and stayed on the point until he hit the wire in a sharp 1:51.Guardian Angel As had started from Post 2 and watched the Dexter Dunn-driven Pinkman carve the quarter in :27. Tetrick tipped Guardian Angel As first-up just before the quarter, and the duo cleared to the lead early in the second panel. From there, Guardian Angel As was on his game, as he tripped the half-mile clock in :55.1 and spun off three quarters in 1:23.2. Guardian Angel As wasn’t going to give up the lead late, and thus Pinkman, who had followed in the pocket, had to settle for second. Fiftydallarbill, who closed hard from the backfield after a three-wide brush, was an impressive third.Guardian Angel As, who returned $5.80 to win, has now won two of his three starts this season. He is owned by ACL Stuteri AB (Paris, KY) and Kjell Johansson (Sosdala, Sweden).